The Books of 2022 | 400+ Titles to Know, Read, Buy, and Share

In its third annual books preview, LJ presents 445 titles in fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, with the titles revealing strong parallels in how writers across genres are approaching our turbulent world.

In its third annual books preview, LJ presents 445 titles in fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, with the titles revealing strong parallels in how writers across genres are approaching our turbulent world.

Illustration by Joey Guidone/SalzmanArt


FICTION

NOBEL PRIZE WINNERS

Abdulrazak Gurnah’s Afterlives (Riverhead, Aug.) uses a multigenerational saga to depict the brutal colonization of East Africa. Toni Morrison’s Recitatif: A Story (Knopf, Feb.) is the stand-alone appearance of the only short story Morrison ever wrote. Olga Tokarczuk’s The Books of Jacob (Riverhead, Feb., tr. Jennifer Croft) offers a fictionalized portrait of enigmatic 18th-century Polish religious leader Jacob Frank. In Peter Handke’s The Fruit Thief: Or, One-Way Journey into the Interior (Farrar, Mar., tr. by Krishna Winston), the bee-stung protagonist searches for the Fruit Thief in travels both actual and metaphorical.

 

PULITZER WINNERS/FINALISTS

Geraldine Brooks’s Horse (Viking, Jun.) tracks the impact of U.S. slavery to the present day through the real-life story of a record-shattering racehorse trained by an enslaved groom. Jennifer Egan’s The Candy House (Scribner, Apr.) uses a spliced-narrative structure to imagine a new technology that allows users to access and share all their memories. Andrew Sean Greer’s Less Is Lost (Little, Brown, Sept.) reveals what the protagonist of Less is stumbling through next, while Elif Batuman’s Either/ Or (Penguin Pr., May) reveals what the protagonist of The Idiot is stumbling through next. Hernan Diaz’s Trust (Riverhead, May) uses a novel-within-a-novel structure to investigate money, power, and perception in early 20th-century U.S. history.

 

NBA/NBCC WINNERS/FINALISTS

Marianne Wiggins’s World War II–set Properties of Thirst (S. & S., Aug.) features a Californian struggling to protect his ranch and family even as he volunteers to fight. In Kali Fajardo Anstine’s Woman of Light (One World. Jun.), 1930s Denver–based Luz “Little Light” Lopez begins having visions of her nearby Chicano Indigenous homeland. Emily St. John Mandel’s centuries-spanning Sea of Tranquility (Knopf, Apr.) links a British aristocrat in early 1900s Canada, a moon-dwelling author on a book tour of Earth, and the detective trying to understand it all. In Elizabeth McCracken’s The Hero of This Book (Ecco, Oct.), a daughter copes with her grandiloquent mother. In Dan Chaon’s Sleepwalk (Holt, May), off-the-grid Will Bear receives a call from a woman claiming to be his daughter. In Susan Straight’s Mecca (Farrar, Mar.), a California highway patrolman descended from both Indigenous peoples and Spanish colonizers wrestles with a violent incident dating from his rookie years. Hanya Yanagihara’s To Paradise (Doubleday, Jan.) centers on a New York City townhouse while moving from an alternate 1893 to AIDS-ravaged 1993 to plague-ravaged totalitarian 2093. In Reyna Grande’s A Ballad of Love and Glory (Atria, Mar.), Mexican healer Ximena and deserting U.S. soldier John Riley meet when they join resistance to the U.S. invasion of Mexico during the Mexican-American War. Margaret Wilkerson Sexton’s On the Rooftop (Ecco, Sept.) depicts a mother’s ambitions for her daughters in gentrifying 1950s San Francisco. In Yoko Tawada’s Scattered All Over the Earth (New Directions, Mar., tr. Margaret Mitsutani), climate refugees swarm the world. Katherine Dunn’s Toad (MCD: Farrar, Nov.) is a previously unpublished novel about a troubled woman from the late Dunn.

 

BOOKER PRIZE WINNERS/FINALISTS

Julian Barnes’s Elizabeth Finch (Knopf, Aug.) stars a demanding professor and the adult student crushing on her. With Young Mungo (Grove, Apr.), Shuggie Bain author Douglas Stuart offers another large-scale tale of working-class life in Glasgow, with young Protestant Mungo and Catholic James in love. In Companion Piece (Pantheon, May), Ali Smith continues her investigation of #MeToo, Brexit, the global refugee crisis, the pandemic, and more. With The Last White Man (Riverhead, Aug.), Mohsin Hamid offers a tale of love, loss, and redemption, while NoViolet Bulawayo dreams up a repressive fictional country with animals as key characters in Glory (Viking, Mar.). A 2030s cyberattack on a biobank network storing the DNA of vanishing species sends two men on a hunt for the world’s smartest fish in Ned Beauman’s Venomous Lumpsucker (Soho, Jul.).

 

MORE KEY AWARD WINNERS

From two National Book Foundation lifetime achievement award winners: Isabel Allende’s Violeta (Ballantine, Jan. tr. Frances Ridde) sweeps its protagonist from the 1918 pandemic to today, while Edmund White’s A Previous Life (Bloomsbury, Jan.) captures marital conflict between a Sicilian aristocrat/musician and his younger American wife. Now receiving its first U.S. publication, International Dublin Literary Award winner Per Petterson’s Echoland (Graywolf, Feb., tr. Don Bartlett) features bright-eyed 12-year-old Arvid, who reappears as a tragedy-beset adult in Men in My Situation (Graywolf, Feb., tr. Ingvild Burkey). In Man Booker International Prize–winning Jokha Alharthi’s Bitter Orange Tree (Catapult, May, tr. Marilyn Booth), an Omani student at a British university is caught uneasily between past and present, Omani and British culture. A departure from her debut, The Old Drift, Caine/Windham Campbell winner Namwali Serpell’s 1990s Baltimore-set The Furrows (Hogarth: Crown, Sept.) explores Black identity. Winner of the Costa Book of the Year Award, Monique Roffey’s The Mermaid of Black Conch (Knopf, Jul.) features a lonely fisherman falling in love with a cursed mermaid.

 

FAMILY

In Jill Bialosky’s The Deceptions (Counterpoint, Sept.), a poet loses direction when her son leaves for college. In Emma Straub’s This Time Tomorrow (Riverhead, May), middle-aged Alice gets to draw close to her father again when she wakes up as a 16-year-old. In Daniel Black’s Don’t Cry for Me (Hanover Square: Harlequin, Feb.), a Black father writes a letter to his estranged gay son, explaining what was expected of men when he was growing up. In Jacquelyn Mitchard’s The Good Son (MIRA, Jan.), Thea Demetriou must figure out how to support her son emotionally when he’s released from prison after committing a heinous crime. Singer-songwriter Aviva Rosner’s latest album shares her struggles to have a child in Elisa Albert’s Human Blues (Avid Reader: S. & S., Jul.). In Xochitl Gonzalez’s Olga Dies Dreaming (Flatiron: Macmillan, Jan.), Olga Acevedo and her congressman brother are upended when their long[1]departed activist mother crashes back into their lives. British Pakistani debuter Taymour Soomro’s Other Names for Love (Farrar, Jul.) stars 16-year-old Fahad, who travels with his father from London to rural Pakistan for a challenging summer. Plimpton Prize winner Jonathan Escoffery debuts with If I Survive You (MCD: Farrar, Jul.), about a Jamaican family trying to make their way in Miami, while members of a Dominican American family react differently to their New York community’s gentrification in Cleyvis Natera’s Neruda on the Park (Ballantine, May). In Carolyn Huynh’s Fortunes of Jaded Women (Atria, Sept.), three Vietnamese American sisters must lift a curse placed on their family never to find love or happiness. In LaToya Watkins’s Perish (Tiny Reparations: Random, Aug.), a Black Texan family confronts past trauma over the deathbed of the matriarch. In Jean Hanff Korelitz’s The Latecomer (Celadon: Macmillan, May), triplets Harrison, Lewyn, and Sally Oppenheim are anticipating college when a sibling is born from an embryo left over from their in vitro beginnings. In Charmaine Wilkerson’s Black Cake (Ballantine, Feb.), estranged siblings Byron and Benny come together over their late mother’s final legacy, the recipe for a traditional Caribbean black cake. When tragedy strikes her shopping-empire family, Riley Brighton searches for meaning in Cecily Wong’s Kaleidoscope (Dutton, Jul.).

 

FRIENDS

Daphne Palasi Andreades’s Brown Girls (Random, Jan.) features Queens, NY–based friends, wrestling with their immigrant roots, their parents’ rules, and their aspirations. Destiny O. Birdsong’s Nobody’s Magic (Grand Central, Feb.) centers on newly in love Suzette, far-from-home Agnes, and inmourning Maple, all Black women with albinism living in Shreveport, LA. Alice Elliott Dark’s Fellowship Point (Marysue Rucci: Scribner, Jul.) concerns the friendship between two women bound by a generations-old partnership involving a beautiful Maine peninsula. In Gabrielle Zevin’s Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow (Knopf, Jul.), estranged friends Sam Masur and Sadie Green come together gingerly to create video games that bring them fame, fortune, and trouble. In Shelby Van Pelt’s Remarkably Bright Creatures (Ecco, May), a giant Pacific octopus helps a widowed aquarium worker, while Yiyun Li’s The Book of Goose (Farrar, Sept.) examines female friendship, art, and memory.

 

COMMUNITY

Fredrik Backman’s The Winners (Atria, Fall) revisits the small but tough rural community first seen in Beartown, while Alexis Schaitkin presents a town where for generations women have vanished mysteriously in Elsewhere (Celadon: Macmillan, Jun.). After Hurricane Maria devastates Puerto Rico, traumatized individuals join a utopian community whose leader turns authoritarian in Xavier Navarro Aquino’s Velorio (HarperVia, Jan.). Vanessa Miller’s Something Good (Harper Christian, Mar.) brings together three women profoundly affected by a tragic accident one of them caused. In Olga Ravn’s International Booker Prize shortlisted The Employees (New Directions, Feb., tr. Martin Aitken), human and humanoid crew members scuffle on a 22nd-century spaceship. In poet/publisher Jonathan Galassi’s School Days (Other, Apr.), a teacher at a distinguished private school is tasked with investigating allegations of past sexual abuse at the school. In Hannah Lillith Assadi’s The Stars Are Not Yet Bells (Riverhead, Jan.), Elle Ranier reflects on the Georgia island where she’s lived for decades after her husband is sent there to investigate strange blue lights.

 

RELATIONSHIPS

In Akwaeke Emezi’s You Made a Fool of Death with Your Beauty (Atria, May), artist Feyi is ready for a relationship five years after the death of her one true love. Set in Trinidad and Tobago, Ayanna Lloyd Banwo’s When We Were Birds (Doubleday, Mar.) brings together gravedigger Darwin and Yejide, charged with ferrying her city’s souls into the afterlife. Angela Jackson Brown’s The Light Always Breaks (Harper Muse, Jul.) concerns love between Black restaurateur Eva Cardon and Courtland Kingsley IV, a white senator from Georgia. In director John Waters’s Liarmouth: A Feel-Bad Romance (Farrar, May), thieving, swindling Marsha Sprinkle meets her match, while the protagonist in Sloane Crosley’s Cult Classic (MCD: Farrar, Jun.) meets a string of ghostly ex-boyfriends. In fiction debuter Nell Stevens’s Briefly, A Delicious Life (Scribner, Jul.), the ghost of a 14-year-old who died giving birth in a 1400s Mallorca monastery falls in love with George Sand when she visits the monastery centuries later. In Lauren McBrayer’s first adult novel, Like a House on Fire (Putnam, Apr.), Merit begins wondering whether her true love is not her husband but her new boss, Jane. In Ryan O’Connell’s Just by Looking at Him (Atria, May), TV writer Eliot confronts his overdrinking and betrayal of his boyfriend while facing a world indifferent to his cerebral palsy.

 

SEARCHING FOR SELF

In Mesha Maren’s Perpetual West (Algonquin, Jan.), Mexican-born, U.S.-raised Alex and his new wife, Elana, face cultural, personal, and sexual identity crises when they move to El Paso, TX, for his graduate school research. In Weike Wang’s Joan Is Okay (Random, Jan.), a hard-charging ICU physician wrestles with being Chinese American, meeting the demands of her male-dominated profession, and finding her own voice. In Claire-Louise Bennett’s Checkout 19 (Riverhead, Mar.), a young woman from a working-class town near London discovers herself through reading despite betrayal by the outside world. A Cree-Métis writer from Canada, Lisa Bird-Wilson portrays a Métis woman adopted by clueless white people who wants to know her origins in Probably Ruby (Hogarth: Crown, Apr.). Born of a human Japanese father and a vampire mother, Lydia is struggling to become an artist in London in Claire Kohda’s Woman, Eating (HarperVia, Apr.). Winner of the Graywolf Press African Fiction Prize, debuter Noor Naga’s If an Egyptian Cannot Speak English (Graywolf, Apr.) features an Egyptian American woman probing her roots in Cairo after the Arab Spring. Poet Lisa Russ Spaar’s fiction debut, Paradise Close (Persea, Apr.), crisscrosses the stories of an orphan in the 1970s and an embittered older man in 2016. Jodi Picoult and Jenny Boylan’s Mad Honey (BBD, Oct.) stars a wealthy wife returning to her New Hampshire hometown after discovering her husband’s ugly side. In Tara Isabella Burton’s queer coming-of-age story, The World Cannot Give (S. & S., Mar.), Laura must decide how committed she is to her increasingly power-hungry schoolmate, Virginia. In Bonnie Garmus’s Lessons in Chemistry (Doubleday, Apr.), Sixties chemist Elizabeth Zott gets pushback from her all-male colleagues but triumphs with a hit TV cooking show blending science and women’s power. In Iman Hariri-Kia’s A Hundred Other Girls (Sourcebooks Landmark, Aug.), Middle Eastern American blogger Noora finds her conceptions challenged after landing her dream job at a magazine. In Cover Story (Morrow, Apr.), famed Whistleblower author Susan Rigetti (as Susan Fowler) features an aspiring young writer betrayed by her mentor.

 

HISTORICAL

In Anthony Marra’s Mercury Pictures Presents (Hogarth: Crown, Jul.), a woman who escaped 1920s Italy for Los Angeles must confront her past when World War II arrives. German director Werner Herzog’s The Twilight World (Penguin Pr., Jun., tr. Michael Hoffmann) reimagines the life of Hiroo Onoda, the Japanese soldier who remained on a Philippines island for nearly three decades, disbelieving the war was over. In Ottessa Moshfegh’s medieval-set Lapvona (Penguin Pr., Jun.), shepherd’s son Marek counters a cruel and corrupt overlord. In Dolen Perkins-Valdez’s Take My Hand (Berkley, Apr.), a young Black nurse working for the Montgomery (AL) Family Planning Clinic discovers shocking truths about her new preteen charges. In Black Cloud Rising (Grove. Feb.), Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Award winner David Wright Faladé uses real-life Civil War sergeant Richard Etheridge to explore the immediate consequences of emancipation. In Jamie Ford’s The Many Daughters of Afong Moy (Atria, Jun.), an artist who turns mental-health crises into art seeks to help her daughter by engaging in a radical therapy connecting her with brave women ancestors. Cultural critic Jabari Asim’s Yonder (S. & S., Jan.) portrays an enslaved community in the mid-19th-century U.S. South who call themselves the Stolen and attempt to create the love and friendship they are denied. Other key titles include Norman Lock’s Voices in the Dead House (Bellevue Literary, Jul.), about Walt Whitman and Louisa May Alcott; Kristina Gorcheva-Newberry’s post–Soviet collapse The Orchard (Ballantine, Mar.); Dahlma Llanos-Figueroa’s A Woman of Endurance (Amistad, Apr.), about 19th-century Puerto Rican plantation society; Jessie Burton’s The House of Fortune (Bloomsbury, Aug.), a companion to The Miniaturist; Hester Fox’s A Lullaby for Witches (Graydon House: Harlequin. Feb.), about a museum assistant’s unsettling discovery; Lauren Belfer’s Ashton Hall (Ballantine, Jun.), reconstructing Elizabethan era–events from a skeleton found buried in the Hall’s wall; and Lee Kravetz’s The Last Confessions of Sylvia P. (Harper. Mar.), reimagining the composition of Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar. See also Jennifer Chiaverini’s World War I–set Switchboard Soldiers (Morrow, Jul.); Noelle Salazar’s Angels of Haarlem (MIRA: Harlequin, Nov.), and Ariel Lawhon & others’ When We Had Wings (Harper Christian, Oct.), both World War II stories; and C.J. Carey’s Widowland (Sourcebooks Landmark, Aug.), an alternate history of a triumphant Reich ruling Britain.

 

SHORT STORIES

Major collections include Hilary Mantel’s Learning To Talk: Stories (Holt. Jun.), Maggie Shipstead’s You Have a Friend in 10A: Stories (Knopf, May), Gish Jen’s Thank You, Mr. Nixon: Stories from the Transformation (Knopf, Jan.), Roddy Doyle’s Life Without Children: Short Stories (Viking, Feb.), Bernard MacLaverty’s Blank Pages: And Other Stories (Norton, Jan.), Jess Walter’s The Angel of Rome: And Other Stories (Harper, Jun.), Lisa Taddeo’s Ghost Lover: Stories (Avid Reader: S. & S., Jun.), Ladee Hubbard’s The Last Suspicious Holdout: Stories (Amistad, Mar.), and Banana Yoshimoto’s Dead-End Memories (Counterpoint, Aug., tr. Asa Yoneda). Plus rising-star Irish author Colin Barrett’s Homesickness (Grove, May); Iranian author Shahriar Mandanipour’s Seasons of Purgatory (Bellevue Literary, Jan., tr. Sara Khalili), after the LJ best-booked Moon Brow; Ramona Reeves’s Drue Heinz–winning It Falls Gently All Around (Univ. of Pittsburgh, Oct.); Godshot author Chelsea Bieker’s Heartbroke (Catapult, Apr.); Penobscot author Morgan Talty’s Night of the Living Rez: Stories (Tin House, Jul.); Sidik Fofana’s big-print-run, Harlem high rise–set Stories from the Tenants Downstairs (Scribner, Aug.); and Rona Jaffe–winning Lydia Conklin’s Rainbow Rainbow (Catapult, May), with queer, gender-nonconforming, and trans characters.

 

MYSTERY

Titles from mystery standbys: Elizabeth George’s Something To Hide (Viking, Jan.), Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child’s Diablo Mesa (Grand Central, Feb.), Cara Black’s Murder at the Porte de Versailles (Soho Crime, Mar.), Donna Leon’s Give unto Others (Atlantic Monthly, Mar.), Jacqueline Winspear’s A Sunlit Weapon (Harper, Mar.), David Rosenfelt’s Citizen K-9 and Holy Chow (Minotaur: St. Martin’s, Mar. and Jul.), Anne Hillerman’s The Sacred Bridge: A Leaphorn, Chee & Manuelito Novel (Harper, Apr. 2022), Anne Perry’s Three Debts Paid: A Daniel Pitt Novel (Ballantine, Apr.), Sara Paretsky’s Overboard (Morrow, May), librarian Ashley Weaver’s The Key to Deceit (Minotaur, May), Elly Griffiths’s The Locked Room (Mariner: HarperCollins, Jun.), Linda Castillo’s The Hidden One (Minotaur: St. Martin’s, Jul.), Alexander McCall Smith’s The Sweet Remnants of Summer: An Isabel Dalhousie Novel (Pantheon, Jul.), William Kent Krueger’s Fox Creek (Atria, Aug.), Donna Andrews’s Round Up the Usual Peacocks (Minotaur: St. Martin’s, Aug.), Ann Cleeves’s The Rising Tide (Minotaur: St. Martin’s, Sept.). and Janet Evanovich’s Going Rogue (Atria, Nov.). New series launches include Joe Ide’s The Goodbye Coast: A Philip Marlowe Novel (Mulholland: Little, Brown. Feb.), Janet Evanovich’s The Recovery Agent (Atria, Mar.), and Kelly Armstrong’s A Rip Through Time (Minotaur: St. Martin’s, May). Marcie R. Rendon continues her Ojibwe reservation–set series starring Cash Blackbear with Sinister Graves (Soho Crime, Oct.). Key debuts include Nita Prose’s big-buzzing The Maid (Ballantine, Jan.), Black violinist Brendan Slocumb’s The Violin Conspiracy (Anchor, Feb.), Eli Cranor’s football-oriented Don’t Know Tough (Soho Crime, Mar.), and Eva Jurczyk’z The Department of Rare Books and Special Collections (Poisoned Pen: Sourcebooks, Jan.).

 

THRILLERS

Joyce Carol Oates’s Babysitter (Knopf, Aug.) involves child abductions in an affluent Detroit suburb, David Baldacci’s The 6:20 Man (Grand Central, Jul.) offers his first stand-alone in more than a decade, Greg Iles’s Southern Man (Morrow, Sept.) brings back Penn Cage 15 years after the “Natchez Burning” trilogy, Scott Turow’s Suspect (Grand Central, Sept.) revisits Kindle County, library champion Karin Slaughter returns with Girl, Forgotten (Morrow, Aug.), and James Patterson partners with Dolly Parton in Run, Rose, Run (Little, Brown, Mar.). Otherwise, too many brand-name thriller authors publish annually to list here, but check out these intriguing titles: Noah Hawley’s Anthem (Grand Central, Jan.), a dystopian quest; Chris Bohjalian’s The Lioness (Doubleday, May), about Hollywooders in the 1960s Serengeti; Joseph Kanon’s Cold War–set The Berlin Exchange (Scribner, Feb.); Danya Kukafka’s Notes on an Execution (Morrow, Jan.), with a serial killer explaining his crimes; Adrian McKinty’s family-on-the-run The Island (Little, Brown, May); Delilah S. Dawson’s The Violence (Del Rey: Ballantine, Feb.), with pandemic as an escape from abuse; Lucy Foley’s The Paris Apartment (Morrow, Feb.), featuring a missing brother; Stephanie Wrobel’s This Might Hurt (Berkley, Feb.), involving a missing sister; Heather Chavez’s Blood Will Tell (Morrow, Apr.), featuring an in-trouble younger sister; Gu Byeong-mo’s The Old Woman with the Knife (Hanover Square: Harlequin, Mar., tr. Chi-Young Kim), featuring a surprising contract killer; Sandie Jones’s The Blame Game (Minotaur: St. Martin’s, Aug.), featuring a troubled psychologist; Rachel Hawkins’s Reckless Girls (St. Martin’s, Jan.), with a South Pacific island paradise turned hellacious; Jason Rekulak’s Hidden Pictures (Flatiron: Macmillan, May), with a five-year-old’s pictures hinting at long-ago murder; Sarah Vaughan’s Reputation (Emily Bestler: Atria, Jul.), with a politician mom in trouble; David Koepp’s Aurora (Harper, Jun.), set during a worldwide power outage; and Allie Reynolds’s The Swell (Putnam, Jul.), featuring murder among surfers. Key debuts include Stacy Willingham’s A Flicker in the Dark (Minotaur: St. Martin’s. Jan.), about a resurfacing crime spree; Grace D. Li’s Portrait of a Thief (Tiny Reparations: Random, Apr.), art heist as restitution; Bethany Morrow’s Cherish Farrah (Dutton, Feb.), with a Black girl troubled by her best friend’s family; and Calla Henkel’s Other People’s Clothes (Doubleday, Feb.), with two U.S. exchange students in Berlin.

 

HORROR

In this sequel to My Heart Is a Chainsaw, Stephen Graham Jones’s Don’t Fear the Reaper (Saga: Gallery, Aug.), an exonerated Jade returns from prison just as convicted serial killer Dark Mill South arrives in town, seeking to avenge 38 Dakota men hanged in 1862. In Kristi DeMeester’s Such a Pretty Smile (St. Martin’s, Jan.), a mother and a daughter are plagued by a snarly creature that goes after girls daring to be different, while the protagonist of Catriona Ward’s Sundial (Tor Nightfire, Mar.) can’t escape her creepy coming-of-age at her family’s Mojave Desert abode. Key titles also include Andy Davidson’s cursed-family The Hollow Kind (MCD: Farrar, Oct.), Darcy Coates’s From Below and Gallow Hill (Poisoned Pen: Sourcebooks, Jun. and Sept.), and three debuts: Katrina Monroe’s They Drown Our Daughters (Poisoned Pen: Sourcebooks, Jul.), about Cape Disappointment’s dangerously beckoning waters; Isabel Cañas’s The Hacienda (Berkley, May), about a Mexican bride’s very own haunted house post–War of Independence; and Ramona Emerson’s Shutter (Soho Crime, Aug.), about a Navajo forensic photographer literally pursued by ghosts.

 

FANTASY/SF

The recently deceased Anne Rice says goodbye with Ramses the Damned: The Reign of Osiris (Knopf, Feb.), written with son Christopher Rice and featuring a reawakened Ramses the Great of Egypt. Key continuing series include Marlon James’s Moon Witch, Spider King (Riverhead, Feb.), Gregory Maguire’s The Oracle of Maracoor (Morrow, Oct.), Ken Liu’s Speaking Bones (Saga: Gallery, Jun.), A.K. Larkwood’s The Thousand Eyes (Tor, Feb.), Seanan McGuire’s Seasonal Fears (Tor.com, May), Rebecca Roanhorse’s Fevered Star (Saga: Gallery, Apr.), and Brandon Sanderson’s The Lost Metal: A Mistborn Novel (Tor, Nov.). S.A. Chakraborty’s The River of Silver (Harper Voyager, Nov.) compiles stories surrounding her “Daevabad Trilogy.” More key titles include John Scalzi’s stand-alone, TV-opted The Kaiju Preservation Society (Tor, Mar.), about huge creatures from an alternate universe; Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s The Daughter of Doctor Moreau (Del Rey: Ballantine, Jul.), setting a reimagined classic in 19th-century Mexico; and important Afrofuturist works by Tochi Onyebuchi (Goliath, Tor.com, Jan.), Maurice Broaddus (Sweep of Stars, Tor, Mar.), and debuter N.E. Davenport (The Blood Trials, Harper Voyager, Apr.). See also Nicola Griffith’s queer Arthurian retelling, Spear (Tor.com. Apr.); Simon Jimenez’s The Spear Cuts Through Water (Del Rey: Ballantine, Aug.), with the Moon Goddess countering a cruel emperor; rapper/actress Janelle Monáe’s The Memory Librarian: And Other Stories of Dirty Computer (Harper Voyager, Apr.), putting to page her album Dirty Computer; John Crowley’s Flint and Mirror (Tor, Apr.), an alternate history of William the Conqueror’s invasion of the British Isles; J.M. Miro’s Ordinary Monsters (Flatiron: Macmillan, Jun.), about children with extraordinary powers in 1880s Great Britain; and John M. Ford’s Aspects (Tor. Apr.), the award winner’s final work achieving publication after his 2006 death.

 


 


NONFICTION

TIME OF CONTAGION

Anthony Almojera’s Riding the Lightning: A Year in the Life of a New York City Paramedic (Mariner: HarperCollins, Jun.) and Thomas Fisher’s The Emergency: A Year of Healing and Heartbreak in a Chicago ER (One World, Mar.) offer on-the-scene views of COVID from medical professionals. Epidemiologist Dan Werb’s The Invisible Siege: The Rise of Coronaviruses and the Search for a Cure (Crown, Mar.) chronicles the rise of the third deadly coronavirus to emerge in two decades. Celebrated poet Meghan O’Rourke’s The Invisible Kingdom: Reimagining Chronic Illness (Riverhead, Mar.) examines escalating autoimmune disease, relevant to the Long COVID. Cultural critic Laura Kipnis explores how COVID has affected intimacy in Love in the Time of Contagion: A Diagnosis (Pantheon, Feb.).

 

HEALTH & WELLNESS

Farzon A. Nahvi’s Code Gray: Death, Life, and Uncertainty in the ER (S. & S., Jul.) highlights daily ethical questions faced by ER doctors. Beth Macy’s Raising Lazarus: Hope, Justice, and the Future of America’s Overdose Crisis (Little, Brown, Aug.) is a sequel to the New York Times best-selling Dopesick. Journalist Rina Raphael’s Gospel of Wellness (Holt, Sept.) tracks the rise of the wellness industry, while poet/novelist Fariha Roisin’s Who Is Wellness For? An Examination of Wellness Culture and Who It Leaves Behind (Harper Wave, Jun.) argues that the industry commodifies South Asian heritage while excluding Black, Brown, and Indigenous peoples. Award-winning New Yorker staffer Rachel Aviv offers Strangers to Ourselves: Telling Lives of Mental Illness (Farrar, Sept.).

 

RACISM & ANTIRACISM

Ibram X. Kendi’s How To Raise an Antiracist (One World, Jun.) blends scholarship and personal experience. Scholar Lewis R. Gordon tracks the development of racialized Blackness and its consequences for both Black and non-Black communities in Fear of Black Consciousness (Farrar, Jan.). Former federal prosecutor Laura Coates’s Just Pursuit: A Black Prosecutor’s Fight for Fairness (S. & S., Jan.) exposes the injustices of the criminal justice system. Marc Lamont Hill and Todd Brewster’s Seen and Unseen: Technology, Social Media, and the Fight for Racial Justice (Atria, May) considers videos like those showing the killing of George Floyd to investigate how technology has impacted our conversations about race. Linda Villarosa’s Under the Skin: The Hidden Toll of Racism on American Lives and on the Health of Our Nation (Doubleday, Jun.) shows how discrimination and poor health are linked for Black Americans. Titles offering personal perspectives include Booker Prize winner Bernardine Evaristo’s Manifesto: On Never Giving Up (Grove, Jan.), comedian Amber Ruffin and her sister Lacey Lamar’s The World Record Book of Racist Stories (Grand Central, Nov.), Daily Beast columnist Wajahat Ali’s Go Back to Where You Came From: And Other Helpful Recommendations on How To Become American (Norton, Jan.), My (Underground) American Dream author Julissa Arce’s You Sound Like a White Girl: The Case for Rejecting Assimilation (Flatiron: Macmillan, Mar.), musician/activist Andre Henry’s All the White Friends I Couldn’t Keep: Hope—and Hard Pills To Swallow—About Making Black Lives Matter (Convergent: Crown, Mar.), and antiracism/feminist activist Rachel Cargle’s Beyond Love and Light (Dial, Oct.). From a Bronx culinary collective, John Gray and others’ Ghetto Gastro Black Power Kitchen (Artisan, Oct.) celebrates Black cuisines and cultures.

 


POLITICIANS' PERSPECTIVE

In A Way Out of No Way: A Memoir of Truth, Transformation, and the New American Story (Penguin Pr., Jun.), Sen. Rev. Raphael G. Warnock tells his story as the first Black senator from Georgia and only the 11th Black senator in U.S. history. In The Road Taken: A Memoir (S. & S., Aug.), Patrick Leahy tells his story as the country’s longest-serving senator. Elected to the Virginia House of Delegates in 2018, Danica Roem is the first out-and-seated transgender state legislator in U.S. history, as detailed in Burn the Page: A True Story of Torching Doubts, Blazing Trails, and Igniting Change (Viking, Apr.). Elected to the Kentucky House of Representatives as its youngest Black state legislator in nearly 90 years, rising progressive Charles Booker shares his beliefs in From the Hood to the Holler: A Story of Separate Worlds, Shared Dreams, and the Fight for America’s Future (Crown, Apr.). Called “the progressive leader we need” by the late congressman John Lewis, Maryland councilman Will Jawando honors those who mentored him in My Seven Black Fathers: A Young Activist’s Memoir of Race, Family, and the Mentors Who Made Him Whole (Farrar, May). Called “the future of the GOP” by Politico, Will Hurd—formerly in the U.S. House of Representatives, sometimes as its only Black Republican—proposes a new vision for the party’s future in American Reboot: An Idealist’s Guide to Getting Big Things Done (S. & S., Feb.).

 

BIOGRAPHY

Biography kicks off with three works about key Black Americans: Robert Samuels and Toluse Olorunnipa’s His Name Is George Floyd: One Man’s Life and the Struggle for Racial Justice (Viking, May), Tomiko Brown-Nagin’s Civil Rights Queen: Constance Baker Motley and the Struggle for Equality (Pantheon. Jan.), and A.J. Baime’s White Lies: The Double Life of Walter F. White and America’s Darkest Secret (Mariner: HarperCollins, Feb.), about a Black civil rights activist who passed for white to investigate Southern racial violence. Mark Lee Gardner offers The Earth Is All That Lasts: Crazy Horse, Sitting Bull, and the Last Stand of the Great Sioux Nation (Custom House: Morrow, Jun.). Kerri Greenidge examines a famous abolitionist family’s embodiment of U.S. mythologizing in The Grimkes: Race and Trauma in an American Family (Liveright: Norton, Oct.). After Nancy Dougherty’s death, Christopher Lehmann-Haupt completed The Hangman and His Wife: The Life and Death of Reinhard Heydrich (Knopf, Apr.), which is based on Dougherty’s interviews with the Nazi official’s wife. Sports biographies include David Maraniss’s Path Lit by Lightning: The Life of Jim Thorpe (S. & S., Aug.) and Last on His Feet: A Poetic Portrait of Jack Johnson (Liveright: Norton, Nov.), a graphic title from Pulitzer Prize finalist poet Adrian Matejka and celebrated illustrator Youssef Daoudi. From Washington-based AP veterans Julie Pace and Darlene Superville, Jill: A Biography of the First Lady (Little, Brown, Apr.) can be read with Valerie Biden Owens’s Growing Up Biden: A Memoir (Celadon: Macmillan, Apr.), from the president’s sister and campaign manager.

 

ECONOMICS

A former chair of the Federal Reserve, Ben S. Bernanke explains the Fed’s newest tools for maintaining the economy in 21st Century Monetary Policy: The Federal Reserve from the Great Inflation to COVID-19 (Norton, May). Key titles also include top financial adviser Ric Edelman’s The Truth About Crypto: Your Investing Guide to Understanding Blockchain, Bitcoin, and Other Digital Assets (S. & S., May), journalist– turned–money manager Adam Sessel’s Where the Money Is: Value Investing in the Digital Age (Avid Reader: S. & S., May), New York Times columnist David Gelles’s The Man Who Broke Capitalism: How Jack Welch Gutted the Heartland and Crushed the Soul of Corporate America—and How To Undo His Legacy (S. & S., May), and Jennifer McAdam’s Devil’s Coin (Morrow, Jun.), by a victim of the OneCoin global cryptocurrency fraud.

 

U.S. HISTORY

An award-winning author who has served as Rhodes Professor of American History at Oxford, Pekka Hämäläinen offers a large-scale revisionist look at the Indigenous peoples of North America in Indigenous Continent (Liveright: Norton, Sept.). Forensic anthropologist Erin Kimmerle’s We Carry Their Bones (Morrow, Jun.) tells the true story of the Dozier School for Boys, brought to light in Colson Whitehead’s Pulitzer Prize–winning The Nickel Boys. Key titles also include David Hackett Fischer’s African Founders: How Enslaved People Expanded American Freedom (S. & S., May), Clyde W. Ford’s Of Blood and Sweat: Black Lives and the Making of White Power and Wealth (Amistad: HarperCollins, Apr.), RJ Young’s Requiem for the Massacre: A Black History on the Conflict, Hope, and Fallout of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre (Counterpoint, Nov.), and Imani Perry’s South to America: A Journey Below the Mason Dixon To Understand the Soul of a Nation (Ecco, Jan.). More key titles include Kim Kelly’s Fight Like Hell: The Untold History of American Labor (One Signal: Atria), James Reginato’s Growing Up Getty: The Story of America’s Most Unconventional Dynasty (Gallery, S. & S., Jul.), Robert Kagan’s The Ghost at the Feast: America and the Collapse of World Order, 1900–1941 (Knopf, Sept.), Nathalia Holt’s Wise Gals: The Spies Who Built the CIA and Changed the Future of Espionage (Putnam, Sept.), and Jeff Yang and others’ Rise: A Pop History of Asian America from the Nineties to Now (Mariner: HarperCollins, Mar.).

 

WORLD HISTORY

Oded Galor’s The Journey of Humanity: The Origins of Wealth and Inequality (Dutton, Mar.) argues that the last two centuries represent a new phase differentiated from the past by better living conditions but also a radically increased gap between the rich and the rest. Other key titles include Irene Vallejo’s Papyrus: The Invention of Books in the Ancient World (Knopf, Sept., tr. Charlotte Whittle), an award winner in the author’s native Spain, plus Simon Sebag Montefiore’s The World: A Family History (Knopf, Sept.), Tina Brown’s The Palace Papers: Inside the House of Windsor—the Truth and the Turmoil (Crown, Apr.), and award-winning journalist Patrick Radden Keefe’s Rogues: True Stories of Grifters, Killers, Rebels and Crooks (Doubleday, Jun.). World War II titles include Rosemary Sullivan’s The Betrayal of Anne Frank: A Cold Case Investigation (Harper, Jan.); Wolfson honoree Richard Overy’s Blood and Ruins: The Last Imperial War, 1931–1945 (Viking, Apr.); Buzz Bissinger’s The Mosquito Bowl: A Game of Life and Death in World War II (Harper, Jun.), about a football game played between U.S. Marine regiments in the Pacific theater on Christmas Eve 1944; and Michael Frank’s One Hundred Saturdays (Avid Reader: S. & S., Sept.), recalling the life and times of 98-year-old Auschwitz survivor Stella Levi.

 

HISTORICAL LEGACY

In Black Ghost of Empire: The Long Death of Slavery and the Failure of Emancipation (Scribner, Apr.), Tufts history professor Kris Manjapra argues that emancipation was incomplete, reinforcing rather than destroying the racial caste system. Author of the multi-award-winning The Invention of Nature, Andrea Wulf returns with Magnificent Rebels: The First Romantics and the Invention of the Self (Knopf, Sept.). The Pulitzer Prize–winning Caroline Ekins’s Legacy of Violence: A History of the British Empire (Knopf, Mar.) presents Britain’s 20th-century empire as grounded in violence stemming from an urgency to maintain control by punishing defiance among the colonized. A Leipzig Book Fair Prize winner, Harald Jähner’s Aftermath: Life in the Fallout of the Third Reich, 1945–1955 (Knopf, Jan.) looks at Germany post–World War II.

 

TOWNS & CITIES

Michelle Wilde Anderson’s The Fight To Save the Town: Reimagining Discarded America (Avid Reader: S. & S., Jun.) examines four communities to reveal the consequences of four decades’ worth of antitax revolt and ways community leaders have coped. In Shelter: A Black Tale of Homeland, Baltimore (Graywolf, Apr.), John Hopkins professor Lawrence Jackson buys a house in Baltimore and reflects on issues of race, neighborhood, and the city itself. Markiyan Kamysh’s Stalking the Atomic City (Astra House, Apr., tr. Reilly Costigan-Humes and Hannah Leliv) reveals what it’s like today to live in Chernobyl’s exclusion zone.

 

MEMOIR: PARTNERS, PARENTS, & CHILDREN

Award-winning novelists Kathryn Davis (Aurelia, Aurélia: A Memoir, Graywolf, Mar.) and Amy Bloom (In Love: A Memoir of Love and Loss, Random, Mar.) ground their reflections on life in the recent loss of a spouse. Michelle Tea’s Knocking Myself Up: A Memoir of My (In)Fertility tells the story of a queer 40-year-old who learned her eggs weren’t viable and ended up carrying a baby for her decade-younger lover. Pulitzer Prize–winning New Yorker staffer Kathryn Schulz explores the bittersweet reality of meeting the woman she would marry just 18 months before losing her father in Lost & Found: A Memoir (Random, Jan.). In Diary of a Misfit (Knopf, May), winner of a J. Anthony Lukas Work-in-Progress Award, Casey Park reports on family and community hostility to her coming out—except that her grandmother asked her to find a woman she once knew who lived as a man. In The Movement Made Us: A Generational Fight for Civil Rights, short-listed for the Anthony Lukas Work-in-Progress Award (Harper, May), son and father David J. Dennis Jr. and David J. Dennis Sr. share stories of engagement and activism. Plus Nabil Ayers’s My Life in the Sunshine: Searching for My Father and Discovering My Family (Viking, Jun.), Chrysta Bilton’s Normal Family: On Truth, Love, and How I Met My 35 Siblings (Little, Brown, Jul.), Kate Swenson’s Forever Boy: A Mother’s Memoir of Autism and Finding Joy (Park Row: Harlequin, Apr.), and Laura Trujillo’s Stepping Back from the Ledge: A Daughter’s Search for Truth and Renewal (Random, Apr.).

 

MEMOIR: RESEEING THE WORLD

In The Crane Wife: A Memoir in Essays (Doubleday, Jun.), CJ Hauser expands on a viral essay about calling off her wedding with this wide-ranging and widely anticipated memoir–cum– essay collection. Other key memoirs include novelist Jami Attenberg’s I Came All This Way To Meet You: Writing Myself Home (Ecco, Jan.) and poet Kiki Petrosino’s Bright: A Memoir (Sarabande, Aug.); Pulitzer finalist poet Garrett Hongo’s what-he’s-heard life study, The Perfect Sound: A Memoir in Stereo (Pantheon, Feb.); Pulitzer Prize–winning critic Margo Jefferson’s “temperamental autobiography,” Constructing a Nervous System (Pantheon, Apr.); New York Times columnist Frank Bruni’s The Beauty of Dusk: On Vision Lost and Found (Avid: S. & S., Mar.), insight from losing sight; Chloé Cooper Jones’s Easy Beauty (Avid Reader: S. & S., Apr.), who finally allows herself to live fully despite a rare congenital condition; Diana Goetsch’s This Body I Wore: A Memoir (Farrar, May), the story of a trans life unfolding over decades; and Emi Nietfield’s Acceptance (Penguin Pr., Aug.), from foster care and homelessness to Harvard and Big Tech. Plus environmentalist Bill McKibben’s The Flag, the Cross, and the Station Wagon: A Graying American Looks Back at His Suburban Boyhood and Wonders What the Hell Happened (Holt, May), BuzzFeed Books founding editor Isaac Fitzgerald’s Dirtbag, Massachusetts: A Confessional (Bloomsbury, Jul.), Keanon Lowe with Justin Spizman’s Hometown Victory: A Coach’s Story of Football, Fate, and Coming Home (Flatiron: Macmillan, May), award-winning MSNBC anchor Katy Tur’s Rough Draft: A Memoir (One Signal: Atria, Jun.), Nyle DiMarco with Robert Siebert’s Deaf Utopia (Morrow, Apr.), Beverly Lowry’s Deer Creek Drive: A Reckoning of Memory and Murder in the Mississippi Delta (Knopf, Aug.), and Edgar Gomez’s High-Risk Homosexual (Soft Skull, Jan.).

 

MEMOIR: CROSSING BOUNDARIES

In Where the Children Take Us (Amistad: HarperCollins, Apr.), CNN anchor Zain Asher celebrates her first-generation British Nigerian mother, who overcame grief over her husband’s death to raise four accomplished children, including Oscar-nominated actor Chiwetel Ejiofor. More key titles include Burundi-born, U.S.-based Pushcart/Whiting honoree Pacifique Irankunda’s The Tears of a Man Flow Inward: Growing Up in the Civil War in Burundi (Random, Mar.); Nigerian-born, U.S.-based global gay rights activist Edafe Okporo’s Asylum: A Memoir & Manifesto (S. & S., Jun.), Javier Zamora’s Solito (Hogarth: Crown, Sept.), the Stegner poet’s story of his journey from El Salvador to the United States; Edel Rodriguez’s Worm: A Cuban American Odyssey (Metropolitan: Holt, Oct.), a graphic memoir of coming to the United States on the Mariel Boatlift; Simu Liu’s We Were Dreamers: An Immigrant Superhero Origin Story (Morrow, May), from Chinese Canadian immigrant to onscreen Marvel superhero; New Yorker staffer Rebecca Mead’s Home/Land: A Memoir of Departure and Return (Knopf, Feb.), relocating from New York to her hometown, London; and popular podcaster Rabia Chaudray’s Fatty Fatty Boom Boom (Algonquin, Fall), sharing about food, body image, and sometimes growing up overwhelmed by his loving Pakistani American family.

 

PRISON PERSPECTIVES

Sara Kruzan and Cori Thomas’s I Cried To Dream Again: Trafficking, Murder, and Deliverance—A Memoir (Pantheon, May) recounts Kruzan’s murder of the pimp who forced her into sex work as a child, followed by imprisonment and redemption. In A Redemptive Path Forward: From Incarceration to a Life of Activism (Counterpoint, May), Antong Lucky journeys from gang life to imprisonment to community activism. In Corrections in Ink: A Memoir (St. Martin’s, Jun.), Keri Blakinger journeys from competitive figure skater to jailed drug addict to journalist exposing the inequities of the prison system.

 

SCIENCE

In Starry Messenger: Civilization from a Cosmic Perspective (Holt, Oct.), famed astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson offers an overarching perspective on holding civilization together despite the issues fracturing us. In Portrait of the Scientist as a Young Woman (Morrow, Jun.), Linda Elkins-Tanton, principal investigator of NASA’s $800 million Psyche mission, introduces us to protoplanet 16 Psyche, located in an asteroid belt 589 million kilometers from Earth and important in understanding how planets were formed. Other key titles include Kathy Kleiman’s Proving Ground: The Untold Story of the Six Women Who Programmed the World’s First Modern Computer (Grand Central, Jul.), Leonard Mlodinow’s Emotional: How Feelings Shape Our Thinking (Pantheon, Jan.), Sy Montgomery’s The Hawk’s Way: Encounters with Fierce Beauty (Atria, May), Steve Brusatte’s The Rise and Fall of the Mammals: A New History (Custom House: Morrow, Jun.), Ed Yong’s An Immense World: How Animal Senses Reveal the Hidden Realms Around Us (Random, Jul.), and Ashlee Vance’s When the Heavens Went On Sale: The Misfits and Geniuses Who Put Space Within Reach (Ecco, Dec.).

 

ENVIRONMENT

The recent surge of titles concerned about the environment continues with Keith O’Brien’s Paradise Falls: The True Story of an Environmental Catastrophe (Pantheon, Apr.), Ben Rawlence’s The Treeline: The Last Forest and the Future of Life on Earth (St. Martin’s, Feb.), Eugene Linden’s Fire and Flood: The True History of Our Epic Failure To Confront the Climate Crisis—and Our Narrow Path from Here (Penguin Pr., Apr.), novelist Ben Okri and illustrator Diana Ejaita’s Every Leaf a Hallelujah (Other, Feb.), novelist Annie Proulx’s Fen, Bog and Swamp: A Short History of Peatland Destruction and Its Role in the Climate Crisis (Scribner, Jun.), Douglas Brinkley’s Silent Spring Revolution: John F. Kennedy, Rachel Carson, Lyndon Johnson, and the Great Environmental Awakening (Harper, Oct.), philosopher Martha C. Nussbaum’s Justice for Animals: Our Collective Responsibility (S. & S., Aug.), Karen Armstrong’s Sacred Nature: The Recovery of Integrity (Knopf, Sept.), Jake Bittle’s The Great Displacement: Climate Change and the Next American Migration (S. & S., Aug.), Fábio Zuker’s The Life and Death of a Minke Whale in the Amazon: Dispatches from the Brazilian Rainforest (Milkweed, May, tr. Ezra Fitz), and Kathryn Savage’s Groundglass: An Essay (Coffee House, Aug.), contemplating life atop a polluted aquifer in Minnesota.

 

PERFORMING ARTS

For cinephiles: Kate Anderson Brower’s Elizabeth Taylor (Harper, Dec.), Quentin Tarantino’s Cinema Speculation (Harper, Oct.), Alan Rickman’s The Rickman Diaries (Holt, Oct.), Molly Shannon’s Hello Molly!, and William Shatner with Joshua Brandon’s Boldly Go (Atria, Fall). For music lovers: Danyel Smith’s Shine Bright: A Very Personal History of Black Women in Pop (Roc Lit 101: Random, Apr.), Nick Cave and Sean O’Hagan’s Faith, Hope, and Carnage (Farrar, Sept.), Jann Wenner’s Like a Rolling Stone (Little, Brown; Sept.), and pianist and MacArthur fellow Jeremy Denk’s Every Good Boy Does Fine: A Love Story, in Music Lessons (Random, Mar.). For balletomanes: Misty Copeland’s The Wind at My Back (Grand Central, Nov.).

 

LITERATURE & REFLECTION

Major literary studies include Robert Douglas-Fairhurst’s The Turning Point: 1851—A Year That Changed Charles Dickens and the World (Knopf, Mar.), Lucasta Miller’s Keats: A Brief Life in Nine Poems and One Epitaph (Knopf, Mar.), Ada Calhoun’s Also a Poet: Frank O’Hara, My Father, and Me (Grove, May), Robert Lowell’s Memoirs (Farrar. Aug., ed. Steven Gould Axelrod and Grzegorz Kosc), and Robert Crawford’s Eliot After “The Wasteland” (Farrar, Aug.). For insight on art and life, see Margaret Atwood’s Burning Questions: Essays and Occasional Pieces, 2004– 2021 (Doubleday, Mar.), Farah Nayeri’s Takedown: Art and Power in the Digital Age (Astra House, Jan.), Jed Perl’s Authority and Freedom: A Defense of the Arts (Knopf, Jan.), Elena Ferrante’s In the Margins: On the Pleasures of Reading and Writing (Europa, Mar., tr. Ann Goldstein), Zora Neale Hurston’s You Don’t Know Us Negroes and Other Essays (Amistad: HarperCollins, Jan.), and poet/performance artist Gabrielle Civil’s the déjà vu: black dreams & black time (Coffee House, Feb.). Nobel Prize winner Louise Glück’s Marigold and Rose (Farrar, Oct.) is a fable for our times, while Clarice Lispector’s The Complete Crônicas (New Directions, Sept., tr. Margaret Jull Costa and Robin Patterson) collects special pieces written for Brazilian newspapers. For fun, see James Patterson’s James Patterson by James Patterson: The Stories of My Life (Little, Brown, Jun.).

 


 

 


POETRY

NATIONAL POETRY SERIES

In Symmetry of Fish (Penguin Poets, Oct.), South Korean–born, Indiana-raised Su Cho wrestles with coming of age and cultural identity as she makes family stories her own. In Extinction Theory (Univ. of Georgia, Oct.), Kundiman fellow Kien Lam uses sharp, bristly language as he examines family, language, and cultural repression to conclude that “Life is a series/ of extinctions.” In Harbinger (Ecco, Oct.), Shelley Puhak vividly addresses artistic creation and the weight of memory. In Relinquenda (Beacon, Oct.), CantoMundo fellow Alexandra Lytton Regalado writes of pain and uncertainty while stranded in the United States by pandemic and separated from her family in El Salvador. In Ask the Brindled (Milkweek, Oct.), queer, Indigenous Hawaiian No’u Revilla addresses self, family, community, and love in rich new ways.

 

TWO DEBUT LIBRARIAN POETS

A library associate at Fulton County Public Library, Jonesboro, GA, Nicholas Goodly explores being Black, queer, and Southern in his expansively embracing Black Swim (Copper Canyon, Fall). A Mississippi-based librarian, the queer, Latinx poet C.T. Salazar situates Headless John the Baptist Hiking (Acre, Feb.) in an often violent South, yet he large-heartedly makes room for understanding and finally salvation.

 

GRIEVING

Jos Charles follows up her inventive Pulitzer Prize finalist feeld with a Year & other poems (Milkweed, Mar.), mourning loss as wildfires burn, the days slip by, and the community of trans women remain challenged. Saeed Jones follows up the flayed beauty of the NBCC finalist Prelude to a Bruise by exploring grief and commemoration, particularly in the Black community, in Alive at the End of the World (Coffee House, Sept.). MacArthur Fellow Ocean Vuong returns with Time Is a Mother (Penguin Pr., Apr.), contextualizing the loss of his mother within larger loss and survival. Winner of the Jake Adam York Prize, Brian Tierney’s Rise and Float (Milkweed, Feb.) limns the many sources of grief, from the loss of loved ones to the cross-generational impact of mental illness. The first Asian American since 1993 and the first transgender poet ever to win the Nuyorican Poets Café Grand Slam, Paul Tran bursts on the scene with All the Flowers Kneeling (Penguin Poets, Feb.), a smart and deeply felt work examining U.S. imperialism, sexual assault, and the challenges of trauma recovery.

 

CROSSING BORDERS

Solmaz Sharif’s Customs (Graywolf, Mar.) dwells with fierce beauty in the interstices of nation, language, time, and place. The Whiting Award–winning Marwa Helal’s Ante body (Nightboat, May) uses daring language to interrogate the impact of migration in a globalized, capitalist world. Winner of the Lexi Rudnitsky First Book Prize in Poetry, Anni Liu’s Border Vista (Persea, Apr.) presents migration as an ongoing event. An RSL Ondaatje Award finalist, Nina Mingya Powles’s Magnolia (Tin House, Aug.) revisits a biracial childhood lived from New Zealand to China to Great Britain and more. Aaiún Nin’s Broken Halves of a Milky Sun (Astra, Feb.) considers war, racism, queer love, and the consequences of colonialism in Nin’s native Angola. Paul Hlava Ceballos’s Donald Hall Prize winner banana [ ] (Univ. of Pittsburgh, Oct.) examines the imbalanced relationship between the United States and the rest of the Americas. In the Agnes Lynch Poetry Prize– winning Brown Girl Chromatography, Bangladeshi American Anuradha Bhowmik examines growing up as a first-generation immigrant in the United State. Filipina Affrilachian Danni Quintos details a diverse story in the Poulin Prize–winning Two Brown Dots (BOA, Apr.).

 

SEARCHING FOR SELF

From former Yale Younger poet Yanyi, Dream of the Divided Field (One World, Mar.) shows that we move from self to self just as we move from home to home. From Victoria Chang, who grabbed attention with her recent OBIT, The Trees Witness Everything (Copper Canyon, Apr.) uses Japanese syllabic forms called wakas to plumb our rich interior lives. In her Ballard Spahr Prize– winning Return Flight (Milkweed, Jan.), Jennifer Huang asks, “what name/ do you crown yourself” and gives multiple answers. In MissSettl (Nightboat, Apr.), nonbinary poet Kamden Ishmael Hilliard pushes against everything that inhibits genuine love and genuine self. In her poetry debut, Content Warning: Everything (Copper Canyon, Apr.), eye-catching novelist Akwaeke Emezi envisions a self that can’t be bent or broken. In Omotara James’s buzzing debut, Song of My Softening (Alice James, Aug.), the speaker constantly renegotiates a sense of self and of self-acceptance in a world leery of fatness and Black queerness, and T.J. Anderson III’s autobiographical journey in t/here it is (Omnidawn, Fall) explains what it’s like to grow up in a world intent on one’s destruction. The Pushcart Prize-nominated Rio Cortez, author of the New York Times best-selling The ABCs of Black History, pushes beyond personal, political, and artistic boundaries in her debut collection, Golden Ax (Penguin Poets, Aug.). Executive editor of the New York Review of Books, Jana Prikryl examines that moment when past and future are equidistant and equally fuzzy in Midwood (Norton, Aug.). In Undress, She Said (Four Way, Sept.), Doug Anderson exhibits acceptance of a body grown old and a soul still hungry for love and experience. In Proceed To Check Out (Univ. of Chicago, Mar.), Alan Shapiro considers the late-life balancing act between past and mortality.

 

RESEEING THE WORLD

In No Land in Sight (Knopf, Jul.), the Pulitzer Prize– winning Charles Simic uses his iconic spiky humor to pinpoint key moments in contemporary life while considering what memory brings. In The Place One Is (Omnidawn, Apr.), Martha Ronk writes limpid verse showing what we are missing in ourselves and in the world. Inspired by a visit to a small gallery in Rome, Jeffrey Thomson’s Museum of Objects Burned by the Souls in Purgatory (Alice James, May) considers how we invest objects, particularly religious objects, with meaning. In The Study of Human Life (Penguin Poets, Sept.), the Whiting Award–winning Joshua Bennett meditates on family and constructs alternate histories, with Malcolm X and a young Black man shot by the police resurrected. In Cain Named the Animal (Farrar, Apr.), the Anisfield-Wolf Award–winning Shane McCrae continues his biblical world building. From The Möbius Strip Club of Grief author Bianca Stone, What Is Otherwise Infinite (Tin House, Jan.) investigates the ways we find our place in the world, e.g., religion and chocolate cake. In Woman Without Shame (Knopf, Sept.), her first collection in nearly three decades, Sandra Cisneros finds her place both within herself and in her ancestral Mexico. Quincy Troupe’s Duende: Poems, 1966-Now (Seven Stories, Jan.) will make readers resee the world.

 

INTERCONNECTEDNESS

Ada Limón’s The Hurting Kind (Milkweed, May) highlights the connections between human and nonhuman, past and present. Jeffrey Yang’s Line and Light (Graywolf, May) traces the energy running through art, myth, and history. In Song of the Closing Doors (Knopf, Aug.), National Book Award finalist Patrick Phillips looks back at life to see how memory and relationships converge. In Ultramarine (Nightboat, Feb.), Wayne Koestenbaum sifts through four years of trance notebooks to stitch together a revealing collage. New York Times poetry columnist Elissa Gabbert’s Normal Distance (Soft Skull, Nov.) also stitches together a collage, using unexpected questions (Was Wittgenstein sexy?). In So Tall It Ends in Heaven (Tin House, Sept.), Jayme Ringleb explores sexuality, faith, and belonging, the same themes veteran novelist Colm Tóibín examines in his debut collection, Vinegar Hill (Beacon, Mar.). Mystery master Alexander McCall Smith joins Tóibín as a poetry newbie with In a Time of Distance (Pantheon, Apr.).

 


WOMEN'S DIVERSE EXPERIENCES

In Bless the Daughter Raised by a Voice in Her Head (Random Paperbacks, Mar.), award-winning Somali British poet and Beyoncé collaborator Warsan Shire probes womanhood, trauma, migration, and resilience. Honored with an Arab American Book Award and First Book Prize for African Poets, Sudanese American poet Safia Elhillo recalls a Muslim girlhood while decrying the dangers of being a woman in Girls That Never Die (One World, Aug.). Brynne Rebele-Henry looks at the girlhood of 1300s Catherine of Siena to understand the gay female experience in Prelude (Univ. of Pittsburgh, Mar.), while DaMaris B. Hill revisits her own upbringing in Breath Better Spent: Living Black Girlhood (Bloomsbury, Jan.). Raised by a sex-worker mother, Katie Marya confronts issues of womanhood, desire, and sexual trauma in Sugar Work (Alice James, Jun.). A Lexi Rudnitsky Editors Choice winner, Sarah Carson’s How To Baptize a Child in Flint, Michigan (Persea, Sept.) reflects on motherhood and the wrecked American dream, while Kim Dower’s I Wore This Dress Today for You, Mom (Red Hen, Apr.) captures motherhood from childbirth to empty nesting.


 

 

Author Image
Barbara Hoffert

Barbara Hoffert (bhoffert@mediasourceinc.com, @BarbaraHoffert on Twitter) is Editor, LJ Book Review; past chair of the Materials Selection Committee of the RUSA (Reference and User Services Assn.) division of the American Library Association; and past president of the National Book Critics Circle, to which she has just been reelected.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.


RELATED 

ALREADY A SUBSCRIBER?

We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing

ALREADY A SUBSCRIBER?